Marriage, Divorce & Re-Marriage

POLICY STATEMENT

 

Creation & Marriage

  • Marriage was not the idea of man or society, but was established by God. God ordained the marriage relationship to be a covenant. A marriage covenant is a binding relationship between one man and one woman designed to bring them together in a “one flesh” union. A central theme to this covenant is that the husband and wife reflect the love and grace of God He has with His people.
  • “The decision to marry for most people does not include the concept of covenant, but most marriages are founded on the premises of consumerism. What is consumerism? It is simply the idea that you deserve happiness, you are entitled to it, and you should have it at any cost. With a consumer mentality, the majority of people get married for the sake of happiness. Fairy tales teach children about the salvation of a prince charming and the blessing of living happily ever after. The American culture eats, sleeps, and breathes the values of consumerism. So most people enter and exit marriage on the basis of a contract, which is an agreement that connects two parties only for the purpose of mutual benefit, but allows them to continue as individuals if the contract needs to be broken. The commitment and values of covenant are far too often betrayed by the pursuit of personal happiness and replaced with easily broken contracts.” Quote found Here
  • In conclusion the Biblical Teaching on marriage is a serious commitment: 1. Between husband and wife, 2. To the society in which they live 3. Before God himself (whether or not he is explicitly acknowledged in the marriage ceremony).
  • CF: Genesis 1:26-28, 2:24; Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:1-14; Matthew 19:1-9; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5

The Fall & Marriage

  • God established marriage to be good and perfect. Sin not only broke the union between humanity and God, but severely corrupted God’s plan for marriage and the relationship between husband and wife. Marriage was designed to be selfless and seeking the desires of the spouse in a God honoring way. Sin changed those desires to be selfish and self seeking.
  • The marriage relationship, apart from God’s grace, has historically been abused as husbands seek to control their wives and the wives seek to seize the headship designed for he husband.
  • CF: Genesis 3; Romans 1 

Redemption & Marriage

  • God ordained before creation that His Son would redeem His people and restore the relationship to Himself with all those that would believe. “Christ has joined the church to Himself through the bonds of the covenant He fulfilled, and this intimate union forms an analogy for Christian marriage.”
  • In Christ there is a restoration of the relationship between husband and wife so that they reflect the relationship (spiritual union) between Christ and His church. The husband is called to love His bride as Christ loved the church. The wife is called to lovingly submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ.
  • CF: Proverbs 5:15-23; Isaiah 4-6; John 3:29; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; 2 Corinthians 11:2-3; Ephesians 5:22-33; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 19:7-8, 21:9 

Divorce, Re-marriage & the Church

  • Divorce has never been God’s ideal. In the law divorce was permitted because of sin. The primary purpose of allowing divorce was to protect women in that society.
  • CF: Deuteronomy 24:1-4
  • Jesus restated God’s purposes for marriage and clarified God’s permission for divorce. Jesus said that the only legitimate reason for divorce is on the grounds of sexual immorality, although God’s original intention was that marriage would be a permanent union.
  • CF: Matthew 5:31-32, 19:1-9; Mark 10:1-8
  • When Jesus addressed divorce it was in the context of husbands and wives being a part of the covenant community of faith. In Paul’s context you had the added element of believing and non-believing spouses. Therefore on the grounds of an unbelieving spouse abandoning the believing spouse Paul grants divorce and re-marriage.
  • CF: Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7
  • It is the role of the church and its leaders to maintain and proclaim a biblical view of marriage. This responsibility includes applying biblical principles into the life of the church. It is the duty of the Elders to counsel members to stay committed to their covenant vows and to encourage repentance when necessary. In cases of abuse, adultery and abandonment the Elders and the church is biblically required to take al necessary steps that lead to repentance and restoration. When repentance is refused church discipline may become necessary.

Application

  • Divorce is the product of the fall and sin. However that does not mean that all divorce is sinful. The innocent spouse in cases of adultery and abandonment are not necessarily committing sin. In cases of sexual immorality and abandonment then divorce is allowed but not required. In fact, forgiveness and reconciliation, restoring the marriage, should always be the first option. In instances when divorce is permitted biblically remarriage is allowed to a believing spouse.
  • An unbiblical divorce/ re-marriage is not the unpardonable sin. Although it is still a sin God’s grace and forgiveness is not negated. His forgiveness should be sought after through repentance when an unbiblical divorce/re-marriage occurs. God forgives all sin that is repented of, therefore the church should respond in like manner.
  • In situations when an unbiblical divorce/re-marriage has occurred there is not grounds for another unbiblical divorce. In those occurrences the spouse should fully repent of any sin surrounding the prior divorce and should remain committed to his/her current spouse.

Questions – Taken from Here

What constitutes a biblically legitimate end to marriage?

  • The death of a spouse brings about the legitimate ending of marriage. The surviving spouse may remarry a believer. (Romans 7:1-3, 1 Corinthians 7:39)
  • Non-Christian divorce – As discussed above, if a non-Christian divorces a believer, then the believer is free to remarry. (1 Corinthians 7:15)
  • An unrepentant spouse under church discipline – If your spouse betrays your marriage covenant (adultery, abuse, chronic sin, etc…) you are not immediately free to divorce him or her, but you are free, and encouraged, to confront him or her with his or her sin and seek his or her restoration. If you confront your spouse in sin and he or she is not repentant, then you should bring the matter to the elders and the elders may begin formal church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17). If in the course of formal church discipline the sinning spouse does not repent, he or she will be viewed as a non-believer and asked to leave the church (1 Corinthians 5).
  • lf the offending spouse, who is under church discipline, seeks a divorce, then 1 Corinthians 7:15 applies and the believing spouse is free from the marriage.

Can I get a divorce if I am unhappy in my marriage or if I truly believe I married the wrong person?

  • No. Marriage is a covenant relationship and God’s revealed will is for married people to remain married. We recognize there may be many legitimate reasons for unhappiness and much work may be required to find healing, but God’s purpose for marriage is a oneness that He uses to bring about greater personal holiness, even at the temporary cost of personal happiness.

Can I separate from my spouse?

  • Yes, you may separate from your spouse and you may need to in order to more effectively work on marital issues. You identity as a husband or a wife is not compromised during a separation and you are not free to act as if you were single. In separation you are still bound by the covenant of marriage.

What do I do if my spouse is abusing me?

  • In cases of covenant betrayal where one person is under physical, spiritual, or emotional abuse, you may need to seek immediate separation until the offending party repents and returns to covenant. You should never place yourself, or your children, in harm’s way for the sake of the relationship or to prevent the other person from leaving. You should also immediately contact the elders of the church to assist you in confronting the abuse.

Can I divorce my spouse if he or she had an affair?

  • While this is a difficult and much debated question, we believe that any sin in marriage, including adultery, should be confronted, repented of, and forgiveness should be offered. This is how God relates to us in covenant. He confronts our sin and offers us forgiveness when we turn toward Him. The offending spouse must be willing to accept the confrontation and forgiveness and be completely repentant. We recognize the wounding that takes place when a spouse commits adultery and we know much healing will need to take place, but if the offending spouse is authentic in his or her repentance, then every effort should be made to keep the covenant of marriage. If the offending spouse is not repentant then he or she may be placed under church discipline.

Should I leave my second marriage in order to seek reconciliation in my first marriage?

  • No, you should never leave your current marriage for the sake of reconciling past relationships. If you sinned against a former spouse and you divorced him or her and remarried, you may need to extend an apology and ask for forgiveness, but you are to remain completely faithful to the covenant made with whomever you are currently married.

Can I remarry if I got a divorce prior to my faith in Jesus?

  • Though marriage is a blessing given to all humanity and is to be honored as a binding covenant even when two non-Christians get married, it is understood that the non-Christian is ignorant of God’s decrees and expectation. A non-Christian is not bound by the same expectations of worship and obedience that a Christian is called to. When you placed your faith in Jesus, his work on the cross effectively covered all of your previous (as well as present and future) sin. Therefore, you would be eligible to remarry a Christian spouse, provided that your previous spouse is not willing to reconcile the marriage. If he or she is willing to reconcile the marriage, he or she must also profess belief in Jesus, or the warnings against being unequally yoked apply (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Can I divorce and remarry if my spouse is placed under church discipline by the elders?

  • If your spouse is placed under church discipline by the elders and does not respond in repentance, he or she will be viewed as a non-Christian. You are not to immediately initiate divorce from your spouse and you should remain faithful to the covenant of marriage. Depending on your spouse’s response to sin (especially a refusal to repent), you may need to separate from your spouse. If the offending spouse still refuses to repent, divorce may become permissible. If your spouse chooses to divorce you, or if the spouse abandons you by refusing to reconcile the marriage, then you are not bound to him or her in marriage and you are free to remarry.

Can I remarry if I had my marriage annulled?

  • No. An annulment will be viewed the same as a divorce. There is nothing in the Bible about the ability to dissolve a marriage so that it never legally existed. Jesus said what God made one, let no man separate.